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Sinking of Dong Fang Zhi Xing


Sinking of Dong Fang Zhi Xing

Sinking of the MV Dong Fang Zhi Xing
Sinking of Dong Fang Zhi Xing is located in China
Sinking location
Time 21:28 (UTC+8)
Date 1 June 2015
Location Yangtze River, China
(specifically Jianli County, Jingzhou, Hubei)
Coordinates [1]
Participants 454[2][3]
Outcome Ship sank, 12 rescued
Deaths 442[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][3]
Survivors 12

MV Dong Fang Zhi Xing (Yangtze River in Jianli, Hubei Province with 454 people on board when it capsized in severe weather and was believed to have been struck by an EF1 tornado.

On June 13, 442 deaths were confirmed with 12 rescued.[3] It is the deadliest peacetime maritime disaster in China's history, and the worst since the Taiping sank in 1949 killing over 1,500.[14]


  • Sinking 1
  • Passengers and crew 2
    • Analysis of the incident 2.1
  • Ship 3
  • Rescue 4
  • Mourning 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Around 9:28 pm on 1 June 2015, Dong Fang Zhi Xing was making a 1,500 km (930 mile) trip from Nanjing to Chongqing via the Yangtze River. When the ship was near Jingzhou, it was caught in a storm and sank in approximately 15 m (49 ft) deep waters. The captain and the chief engineer said that the ship was hit by a tornado, and the China Meteorological Administration confirmed that a tornado occurred in Jianli County with wind-speeds reaching EF1 strength, or approximately 138–177 km/h (86–110 mph).[15][16] It is believed that the tornado struck the river near the ship's location.[17]

Passengers and crew

Passengers on board by region[18]
Region No.
Jiangsu 204
Shanghai 97
Tianjin 43
Shandong 23
Fujian 19
Zhejiang 11
Anhui 8
Total 405

Initially, the Chinese authorities reported 458 people were aboard the ship, but later reduced this figure to 456. This included 405 passengers, all of whom were Chinese and mostly elderly, 46 crew members and five tour guides.[2][16] According to crew members that were rescued, the storm hit and capsized the ship quickly while most of the passengers were asleep. One rescued passenger stated that the ship had become flooded with water, and with the turbulent river conditions, capsized after experiencing a list greater than 45 degrees.[17] Seven survivors were able to swim to shore and alert authorities about two and a half hours after capsizing.[19] On June 13, the Chinese authorities updated that 454, not 456, people were on board and 442 bodies had been found with 12 rescued.[3]

Analysis of the incident

Authorities in China are attempting to determine the cause of the capsizing. Severe weather reports were issued for the area, which should have subsequently been sent to all vessels on the river in the area for them to take necessary precautions. There is no confirmation that Dong Fang Zhi Xing had been properly notified,[17] though at least one other vessel travelling nearby was shown to have taken precautions due to the weather warning.[20] The ship's captain and chief engineer, two of the rescued persons, have been taken into custody for questioning.[21]

The Chinese Government is censoring news and discussion about this accident, while tightly controlling media coverage. Chinese journalists have been told to focus on the "positive part" of the story only. The Politburo Standing Committee has attempted to control public opinion about the disaster response, by issuing an order to both "understand the sorrow of the families" and "concretely preserve social stability".[22] Some foreign journalists have also been blocked from the rescue site in Hubei province where a police cordon has been set up with checkpoints.[23]


  • Dong Fang Zhi Xing
  • 东方之星
Owner: Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corporation (重庆东方轮船公司)[24]
Operator: Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corporation (重庆东方轮船公司)
Port of registry:  China
Route: Nanjing to Chongqing
Ordered: Before 1992[25]
Builder: Chongqing Chuandong Shipyard (重庆川东造船厂)
Completed: 1994
Maiden voyage: Fuling to Wanzhou[26]
In service: February 1994[26]
Out of service: 1 June 2015
Identification: Maritime Mobile Service Identity: 413800469[27]
Fate: Capsized and sank on 1 June 2015
Status: Wreck
General characteristics
Class & type: Cruise ship
Tonnage: 3900[28]
Displacement: 2200
Length: 76.5 metres (251 ft)[29]
Beam: 11 metres (36 ft)
Height: 18.6 metres (61 ft)
Draught: 2.5 metres (8.2 ft)
Speed: 6 knots (11 km/h)[30]
Capacity: 534 passengers
Crew: 46[31]

MV Dong Fang Zhi Xing was constructed in February 1994.[32] In 1997 the ship’s length was extended by 11 meters. It underwent another retrofit in 2008 that cut its capacity from 584 to 534 people.[33] As of 2015, the ship was 76 metres (250 ft) China.[35]

Dong Fang Zhi Xing, as well as other Yangtze River cruise ships, had come under increasing government scrutiny in recent years due to the growing tourist industry in China . In 2013, the Dong Fang Zhi Xing and five other ships were cited for safety violations by the Nanjing maritime bureau, though the Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corporation did not comment on the nature of these infractions.[20]


Rescue efforts were made immediately to save the passengers and crew, reaching full scale about twelve hours after the capsizing.[32] 82 people had been confirmed dead by 4 June,[4] with some bodies having washed ashore 50 km (31 mi) downstream from the wreck.[36] Fourteen people were rescued in the immediate aftermath, including the ship's engineer and captain.[19][37]

According to a tweet from China Central Television (CCTV), rescuers were able to hear the sound of people trapped inside.[32] CCTV reported that search teams heard people yelling from within the ship. 1,000 police officers from the Hubei Armed Police Corps were sent to the site with 40 inflatable boats. Authorities reported that the search and rescue effort included 3,000 people and 50 boats.[19] Crews used both underwater approaches with diving apparatus, and above-water approaches through holes cut through the inverted hull.[36]

A typical cruise ship similar to the Dong Fang Zhi Xing used to tour the Three Gorges rivers.

Additional search efforts were made to locate survivors or bodies up to 220 kilometres (140 mi) downstream of the wreck.[38] The

  • 图文直播:载456人客轮沉没 长江大救援!!! (
  • 载458人客轮在长江湖北段倾覆 (Netease)
  • 实时播报:全力搜救“东方之星” (Sina)
  • "东方之星"倾覆长江 上载458人 (Sohu)

External links

  1. ^ "长江沉船 事发3天前航道局提醒谨慎航行,航道因施工曾调整". The Paper. June 5, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Wong, Edward; Forsythe, Michael (3 June 2015). "Few Triumphs in Frantic Hunt for 430 in Yangtze River".  
  3. ^ a b c d "Sinking of Dong Fang Zhi Xing: 12 rescued, 442 bodied found" (in Chinese).  
  4. ^ a b "Death toll climbs to 82 as China starts righting capsized ship". Reuters. 4 June 2015. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  5. ^ "Yangtze ship disaster: Chinese salvagers right Eastern Star". BBC News. 5 June 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "Chinese cruise ship raised from Yangtze as death toll climbs to 154". CBC News. 5 June 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Watson, Ivan; Park, Madison; Botelho, Greg (5 June 2015). "331 bodies recovered from Chinese cruise ship that capsized".  
  8. ^ "Stricken Chinese cruise ship lifted from Yangtze River; hundreds of bodies recovered".  
  9. ^ "Many tears, few answers at site of China ship tragedy; death toll jumps to 406".  
  10. ^ "Yangtze ferry disaster: Death toll exceeds 430 as recovery workers remember the dead".  
  11. ^ "Frustration Builds Among Families of Yangtze Cruise-Ship Victims". The Wall Street Journal. 7 June 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  12. ^ "China cruise ship disaster: 434 bodies recovered; 8 still missing".  
  13. ^ "东方之星事故续:441人身份确认 还有1人下落不明".  
  14. ^ Kuo, Lily (June 5, 2015). "With over 440 expected dead, the Yangtze river cruise sinking is China’s worst boating disaster".  
  15. ^ "Tornado caused Chinese cruise ship to capsize". News 10. 3 June 2015. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  16. ^ a b "Survivor: Chinese cruise ship capsized quickly during violent storm". CNN. 2 June 2015. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  17. ^ a b c Wong, Chun Han; Chin, Josh (2 June 2015). "China Ship Passengers’ Fate Unclear; Media Clampdown Begins".  
  18. ^ Phipps, Claire; Weaver, Matthew (3 June 2015). "Cyclone hits Chinese cruise on Yangtze river: 400 missing – live updates".  
  19. ^ a b c Phipps, Claire; Weaver, Matthew (2 June 2015). "Chinese ferry sinks in Yangtze river with 458 people aboard – latest updates". The Guardian. 
  20. ^ a b Burkitt, Laurie; Wong, Chun Han (3 June 2015). "Chinese Ship That Sank in Yangtze River Was Cited for Safety Issues".  
  21. ^ Mullen, Jethro; Jiang, Steven (1 June 2015). "Cruise ship sinks in China's Yangtze River with 458 aboard".  
  22. ^ "Capsized Chinese ship righted: 97 bodies found, hundreds still missing". Associated Press. 5 June 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-21 – via The Guardian. 
  23. ^ "China is censoring news and discussion about the Yangtze cruise disaster".  
  24. ^ 贾华杰 (2 June 2015). 东方之星"沉船身世调查:所属公司亏损400万""". Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  25. ^ 张梦云; 吴非 (2 June 2015). "我所知道的东方轮船公司和东方之星". Southern Weekly. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  26. ^ a b 中国船舶网 (4 June 2015). """东方轮船:"东方之星"号曾"大改. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  27. ^ "DONG FANG ZHI XING". Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  28. ^ "东方之星游轮倾覆事件告游客书". 2 June 2015. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  29. ^ 赵宇飞、韩振 (2 June 2015). "失事客轮于1994年建造 中间曾进行翻修".  
  30. ^ "東方之星沉沒前異常調頭 疑似操作不當".  
  31. ^ "长江沉船事故仍有437人生死不明 14人生还". Sina. 2 June 2015. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  32. ^ a b c Yong, Edward (2 June 2015). "Hundreds Missing After Chinese Cruise Ship Sinks on Yangtze".  
  33. ^ "China Prepares to Right Overturned Ship in Yangtze River". The Wall Street Journal. June 4, 2015. 
  34. ^ "DONG FANG ZHI XING". Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  35. ^ Shannon Tiezzi, The Diplomat. "438 Passengers Still Missing After Chinese Tour Boat Sinks". The Diplomat. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  36. ^ a b "China ship capsize: 'Race against time' in Yangtze rescue".  
  37. ^ Sue-Lin Wong (2 June 2015). "Chinese ferry with 458 aboard sinks in storm, 20 rescued". Reuters. 
  38. ^ "Yangtze boat disaster: hopes fade for hundreds missing after China’s worst boat tragedy in decades".  
  39. ^ "Yangtze Capsize: How the Three Gorges Dam Is Helping Rescuers". WSJ. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  40. ^ "Yangtze disaster: Operation begins to lift Chinese ship".  
  41. ^ "China ferry disaster search area is extended 1,000km down Yangtze river".  
  42. ^ "President Xi urges all-out rescue efforts after ship with 458 people sinks". Xinhua. 2 June 2015. 
  43. ^ "China mourns Yangtze shipwreck victims". Xinhua. 7 June 2015. 
  44. ^ "网曝总局要求停播综艺 湖南江苏等证实将悼念". 6 June 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 


See also

To mourn the victims, all Chinese satellite television channels suspended entertainment programs from 7 June to 8 June.[44]

On 7 June, more than 500 rescue workers and government officials at the site mourned during a three-minute silence, after an announcement from Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang. According to Chinese tradition, the seventh day is a key occasion to mourn the passing of the dead (头七).[43]


The highest levels of the government were involved in the search coordination. Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang ordered rescue efforts. Premier Li Keqiang, Vice Premier Ma Kai and State Councilor Yang Jing traveled to the site itself.[42]

On 5 June, the inverted ship was fitted with cables and nets, and the holes cut in the hull sealed, in order to right the ship and resume the search for survivors or bodies.[40] The search yielded only bodies.[7] The search range was subsequently expanded to 1,000 km (620 mi) downstream on 5 June.[41]


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